Voice, Gender and Space in Time of Five-Year Plans: The Idea of Lata Mangeshkar Author(s): Sanjay Srivastava

Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 39, No. 20 (May 15-21, 2004), pp. 2019-2028 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4415027 Accessed: 26/07/2010 07:18
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'authentically' Indian or otherwise. along with this dominance. the discourse of centralised economic planning. Thediscussion examines the stabilisation of gender identities through a number of elementsof Indian modernity including nationalism. 'bad'. Lata Mangeshkar was born in 1929 in Indore. The intent is to explore the stabilisation of gender identities through specific elements of Indian modernity: a nationalist discourse in which 'woman' as a sign has fluctuated between the poles of the mother and the sexually dangerous being. then. though the discourse of nationalism looms large in what follows. and as a child both she and her sister Asha Bhonsle learnt music from a series of accomplished musicians. then it can be argued that Lata's singing voice has itistituted a very specific identity for Indian womanhood. One music critic has noted that Lata's style has become "the ultimate measure of sweetness in a woman's voice. it could be said. The Gender and Space of Five-Year Plans Idea in Time of Lata Mangeshkar This article explores Lata Mangeshkar's artistry in order to investigate the processes through which her voice and singing style became the ideal of Indian performativefemininity. over previous four decades or so. Singers cultivated little public presence and rather than the personality of the singer. Lata's voice has dominated the Indian popularmusic scene. she established a specific vocal style.3So. sung in 18 Indian languages. One source estimates that by 1991 she had recorded around 6. one which has almost no precedence in traditional forms of Indian music. commercial music was sold in the market under the banner of the film with which the songs were associated. in India. almost no precedence for Lata's voice . Another suggests that singers from musical genres with their own distinct style began to mimic Lata's voice and that it soon "became difficult to imagine a female voice thatis not Lata Mangeshkar's" (Chandavarkarquoted in Manuel 1993: 53). the relationship between the performer and the audience in Indianmusic. Clearly. this discussion is also about the cultural politics of Indian masculinity.became an expression of gender identity in India. cinematic representations of Indian culture. been connected with films and whilst in the early films many of the songs were sung by the actors themselves.000 songs [Manuel 1993:267. And. the 'woman' conjuredby LataMangeshkar' s singing voice is the product of certain development that are peculiar to the processes of Indian modernity. Among female playback singers. this should not be taken to mean that projects of modernity can simply be reduced to it. As well. the cultural meanings of the five-year plans. 10n]. given the interactional natureof gender. Inotherwords. Indian popular music has. it was their voice that functioned as a sign. There is. reputedly. And. became recognised as an aesthetic marker of 'modem' Indian female identity. with the tendencies that come to gather about her singing style and attributeto it the characteristic of 'good' and 'authentically' Indian-feminine.and the kind Lata. This situation has only recently begun to change and even then can't be compared to the situation of western pop music.Special articles Voice. but rather. And. the culturalproduction of space. the 'woman question'. During the last and the current century. it clearly does not exhaust inquiry into the topic. a particular female singing voice . as is well known. while journalistic accounts speak of a substantiallygreatercorpus. SRIVASTAVA SANJAY his paper seeks to make some comments on how. representationsof space and also. if "vocal style (aside from the language) is the single most importantmarkerof aesthetic identity" [Manuel 1993:52]. Femininity and Space of the Nation This discussion is not concerned with whether Lata's voice is 'good'. singers are not necessarily stars in themselves and. the relationship between the Indian provincial and metropolitan cultures.2 And. during the 1940s this practice gave way to 'playback' singing where the actors' singing voice was provided by someone else. Lata Mangeshkar. Lata recorded her first song in 1942 and since then has. Hindu identity. 2004 2019 . in the main. So. while I primarilyconcentrateon pleasure as a nationalist project. which in conjunction with the factors I will discuss below. and the relationship between orality and literacy in popular culture. till quite recently. nationalist ideology is only one of the grids upon which post-colonial modernityis situated. [And that] Its chief characteristic was the skilled use of a particular kind of falsetto which did not exist in quite the same way before her coming" (Raghava Menon quoted in Manuel 1993: 53). These topics are explored through the career of India's most famous 'playback' singer. what follows is not an argument about causality.with its specific tonality and modulation . Economic and Political Weekly May 15.

SisterNiveditawas to say.ruins of past 'civilisations'.6 sites.Oneof thepithiestexampleis to be encountered the work in absorbed mysticillumination. one markedby an extraordinary diversityof sexualitywhichalwaysthreatens runfree"[Zutshi1993:102]. mustgive a country love.This indirect influence choosing the by among songsandstylesproffered mightbe achievedthroughresourcesalreadyat 'our' disposal: an or withthemagiclantern. shrillado.of course.it has been sugexpressivetraditions.this formulation the issue shouldbe treated to constant as that. Such an 'efficiency of speaksof the "creation film musicas a common-denominator drive' towardsa new society.to deal with this dilemma?In part. The melangeof female singing followingdiscussionseeksto explorethisverypublicdimension in of question' thecareer Indian styles found in the subcontinent modernity through rangesfrom groupsinging at of the 'woman an of ritualoccasions(a weddingbeing the most common). [Manuel 1993:53]. the is And.and 'its' women. identities.-2004 .no matter figures. on audience. by classicalmusic virtuosoZohraBai. Consideration aspects of wouldimpart love of country.Mani 1993]. then. whichseeksto accountforthedominance Oneperspective and This called for. but tradition was of 1993a. of ritual-linked have becomepartof the commercial Withthecomingof cinemain India.and hence. I have cannot. pictures.geographical sensibility. field of the aesthetic.also had of The sentedhere shouldonly be regarded a niche in the complex a roleto playin debatesaboutengagements as withmodernity.However. lie in makingwomenmore'efficient'[SisterNivedita1923:59]. These examples could be multiplied of women'seducation India.certain schoolsof Indian suchas theMadhubani art aHindu this a 1982]andMughalminiatures [Beach1992]where goddess. it How. a we to gender including How shallwomenbe enthusiastic aboutsomething of the discourseof early Indiannationalismprovidesa good theycannot imagine? starting point towardsthis objective.thetableau publicforms performances milieu. became inextricablyattachedto the possibilitiesof cinematic performance and attached whatthe context.to thepervasive influence a singerwhohas.cautionary and suggested 4] 1998:chap that. sing had from in filmic techniques almost demandingjewellery herhusband 'heavy'andnasaltones.5 her voice is nevertheless Ganges. of betweengeography the nationmayhave and another of example theheterogeneity whichI speak.and in turn. if the Dholi Gayikayen Jodhpur4 styles. must in withmanyregionalandotherstyles vying for a place. the Taj Mahal. formulation engendered specific style [Thakur were concerned.and the it mayseem.However. Gupta and Ferguson 1992].as if.hill-stations. in (and)an iconoclastic of SisterNivedita(Margaret Noble) and occursin an articleon visionary drunkard the of Education IndianWoman'. however. I amreferring theunderstanding culture it betweenthe low alto andthe uppertenorranges which represented as linkedto geographical deliveryranges places [Clifford andfrequently listeners to thegenderof 1988.women'ssingingstyles representation menandwomen become However.importance explicitlyrecognisedby nationalists various binationof "a desperatelover intoxicatedwith passion. andoffice buildingswhichconstituted representational as the of The ghazal singing of Pakistan'sFarida Khanum7provides iconography the fledgling nation state.Khanum's The relationship voice. styles Given this diversity(as I show below). the resolutionof the 'woman question' was achieved is important thinkabouthow LataMangeshkar's to of as falsetto cameto be established the 'ideal'in 'Indian through identifyingwomennotjust as the carriers 'tradition' lescent-girl itself: women's bodies becamethe site on which popularmusic and film culturein general' [Manuel1993:53].persuasive of with moraltales. tradition seen to be [Chatterjee My illustrations expressiveheteroglossia as elsewhere[Srivastava do justice to that vast storehouseof emotions. scenarios.8This nodoubt. public in India.at least those not connectedwith the film industry to the naturaland humantopographies.9rather of and thanas sign of the nation-to-be which comes to be represented betweenhumanbeings. this standpointcan be usefully may popularisegeography. such that Indianculturebecomes attachedto specific the determine thecaseof anearly(1911)recording theHindustani natural human-made in and sites: the Himalayas. important "thewandering bytheindustry" Bhagabatas Kathakas. pictures.This was an interpretation then the Hindustani to of classical music singerGangubaiHangal's a natural affinityto.as far as the nationalists represents 2020 Economicand PoliticalWeekly May 15. As feministscholarship pointedout 'woman'functioned It can be arguedthatthe abovederivesfroma 'modem'view has as an important in the masculinist constructions the idea of cultureas a territorialised fixed concept. the Sister noted.manyearlier structure emotionsin the post-colonialera. it might be sughavebeenmarked a strikingheterogeneity tonalandother gested. aspect to consider. One can contrastthis throughthe the relationship notion of the "mother-who-is-the-nation" land[Zutshi1993:94]. producedin corporate. some instances.in that"the landscape humanemotionalstatesor religiousbeliefs problem. crafted entire family In of organised publicperformances.A fundamental of celebrating omnipotence wine"[Rahman. saint and citizen' (1923:57).managesto received scant attentionfrom scholarsof India. period. laments.the makingof 'queenand the subsequent stylistic homogeneityusheredin by Lata style housewife. aspect Faruqi the 'Future and Pritchett1994:94]. of ichnography Indianmusic. amongotherthings.a rapt hue. This. is. only play of historicinventivenesswhich is groupedunder someof caution itmaycapture oneof several the rubric Indianmusic. its was of reproducethe complexitiesof a subjectpositionthat is a com.andcanexerciseonly consciousness national of of feeling [SisterNivedita1923:59].incantations sensualdivinities.the publiclife of the Indianfamily. we of identities.urban studios and womenbe imparted geographical a For.influencesthe representation trying concretise to and If ideas.and cajoling.In with the absenceof the realistconventionin representing some versionsthis was achievedthroughrepresenting Indiaas scapein.by showing slides illustrativeof (1923:61): supplemented throughan analysis of the wider culturaland variouspilgrimages" historicaldynamicwhich contributestowardsconstituting the these are the first of instruments in Picture. requiredthat mass-musicstyle.it of femininity conjures in the widersphereof femalesinging image Woman (could) be perceived to contain a charge of to in India.religious imbued witha qualitybestdescribed playfulaggressiveness.pleading.this audiencehas knowledgeconstitutedthe fundamental superimposed a heterogeneous buildingblock of the no activerolein thecreation this music.though artiste's gender notreallydifficultto 1993]. manifold. the randomsamplepre. say. alternately sensuous.gested.pictures the mother-tongue. and to landscape[Gibson as confusesunacquainted theartiste. was a resultof the particular of of by interpretation the term of of a wife 'culture'that had come to be establishedduringthe moder So.

.Swarup of of Singh. it belongedto this milieu.the audibilityof women in public spaces. published in Hindi as Ankhon Dekha Gadar .rather thanstanding cultureitself. in (1974:104) singer.and problematic scholarof Indian(or. However.Writingat the turnof and the century. a sensibility of cultureas a relationship betweenhumansrather thanwith fixed book publishedtowards space could also be found.descriptions scenery landscape almostentirely and are absent of in an accountthatis. many of these spacesof Indianculturewere publicspaces. re-interpret. And further. can only begin to comprehend transWe this actionalsensibilityif we thinkof it as partof a very different of understanding cultureto thatwhich we have become accustomed. [Schomer 1983:11].thatLata'svoice It becomes the unquestionable authorityon the feminine ideal Economic and Political Weekly May 15. other words is not (or was not) in artistry hegemonic.procedures.andcomforting strangely disorienting . theatre). throughthe "sensuousperfectionof the voice"[Coomaraswamy 1974:103].Thereis no suggestionherethatany one particular type of tonality is consideredto be the mark of 'good' singing. For. on One of the ways in which this dominancemay have been achieved reference therelationship to mightbe illustrated through 1 betweenoralityandliterariness. itwasdescribed realistic.Manjha Prawas. performative the contextsof oralitycan be thoughtof as the situationwhere the listener may talk back. 2004 2021 . whenIndian the territory.the familiar. is in this sense.sensibility of landscapeand territory that found play in early cinema. in public what was at issue was notjust spaces?And. but this gesture which otherwise threatenedmale the dominance thesespaces. rather. The book .AnandaCoomaraswamy. However.The treatment nature the (modern) of in Dwivediperiod was quitedifferent.The of the performer. i e.through femininity Lata's voice.'realistic'. most importantly. in fact.since it faced the skill of the audiencein receiving the performance. Coomaraswamy was to note. emphasis added]. and The interrupt. and where Lata has Mangeshkar been particularly helpful.is due to "hismagnificently expressivevoice .an aspect that is crucial for illustratingwhat 'Indian'cultureis. written) and to (i approach music [Manuel1993:50].wherenow thefemininecan be articulated timbreand style. profound He suggestedthatin Indianmusic the relationship betweenthe is and also performer theaudience one wheretheaudience brings to an artistry listening:"the listener(responds)with an art of his own" [Coomaraswamy 1974:103]. a differentway of organisingculture. how was the 'fraternal contract' to 1980]whichwas nationalism dealwiththisincreas[Pateman ing visibilityof the filmic woman 'out of place'.teemingwith people. dynamicsof the oralcontextare one where the artistryof the performer not reducedto any is and singularcharacteristic.i e. And hereinlay one of the problemsfor the 'woman question' in India. the positioningof women within it.KarineSchomerpointsout that"nature not beenabsentfrom(medieval)Brajpoetry. viz.on theotherhand.andbetweenreadersandtexts:it is a sensibility which has the potentialto privilegethe 'expert'anddisenfranchises the 'lay-person'. For. see also Hansen 1992 on northIndiannautanki Since 'traditional' Indianmusicwas not writtenmusic. and sing and dance in these places which come to constitute Indianculturaland nationalspaces.1It wouldappear thewider that contextin whichthe audienceexists as an active entitywith its is ownartistry thecontextwhere'orality'continues be a valued to modeof interaction. And yet.that "the musicianin Indiafinds a model audience. Wadley suggests that thegreatpopularity themosthighlyregarded these. theirpresencewas 'thinned' throughthe expressivetimbregrantedthem.technicallycritical. Indian filmsbothcontributed towards consolidation the of a national on imagination a mass scale .derivesfroma 'compositional' context:for "theelaborate (of arrangements Indianfilm music) reflecta precomposed notated e. they said .it is not enoughto say thatLataprovidesthe bridge betweencolonial-nationalist cinematic historyandmodern problematicof representations.The compocompositionandperformance" sitional or literarymode of performance can be linked to a widersensibility about the relationshipbetween performers andaudiences. Effectiveperformances Dhola.butit was an idealised nature. The only througha constricted audienceis now instructed what femininityis. An important aspectof the definitionof 'culture'once it becomesattached territories landscapesis. that interesting. then. A Marathi the end of last centuryprovidesa tantalising glimpse into this alternative world view. tonality and stylistic stricturethat markedthat presence.covering a range of performance styles" [Wadley 1989:81.is an account of the travels of the Brahmin GodsefromPuneto Mathura someVishnubhatt has time in 1857. A similarpoint has been for to in madewithrespect theabsenceof a realisttradition medieval Hindipoetrythatprovidesa contrastwith developments the in had modemperiod. indeed. and transactions. is not therefore"the voice that makes the It asso oftenhappens Europe". Here was a great dilemma. SusanWadley'sdisqualityin Indianperformative cussionof the 'performance of of strategies' theartistes thenorth Indianepic of Dhola is a case in point. usuallyrelegatedto the role of enhancinghumanemotions. 'art' is almost fundamental Her to another the processof modernity: recastingof the relationship betweenthe performer the audience.given the 'musical'nature Indiancinema .wasdomesticated of through timbre.its to and public nature.Godse's travelogue a effect.these sites areIndia. heroesandheroinesof Indianfilms come to meet. It wouldappear thatthe Lata's stylistic innovationoffereda viable solutionto the above problemof representation the in public sphere:at the same time that women's bodies became visible in publicspacesvia films.12 Lata'smusic. The heroinesfor whom Lata providedthe singing voice may well have been around hill-sidesandstreetswhile performing songa prancing sequence. certainlynot the voice.but also seemed to pose a threatto one of the fundamental organising principlesof the discourseson nationalism. For the modernreader.dependon of two things:"tellingthe story in a clear fashion and providing variety"(97.The potentially powerfulimageof the heroineenjoyingthe freedom of thepublicspacein equalmeasure themaleheroandsinging to in a voicethatmayexpressanambiguous was. definedas 'nothome'. . to but somewhatindifferent voice production" (1974:103).It is. LataMangeshkar managesto breakthis dynamicrelationship betweenthe performer the audience10and impose a code and of interpretation throughthe dramatic emphasison the singing ratherthan the song. undermined.. Wadleysuggests.Hindu) aesthetics in madewhatis a particularly observation this regard. of visibilitybutalso . This view finds strongsupportin contemporary scholarshipthroughthe absenceof any discussionthatseeks to define a normfor voice traditions. instead. culturebecomesattached landscape to and Now. only was it madean independent Not poetic in but concrete detail" subject. even during the modernperiod.It is preciselythis modern.

by the authorit\ . Lata's motherhood falls. and ignorant of Sanskrit. So. Vishnu NarayanBhatkhande(1860-1936) 2022 Economicand PoliticalWeekly May 15.'marginalising other existing worldviews. the Hindu-Muslim angle in the context of producing a 'national' music culture came to the fore in several ways. the artistry of the audience in receiving the performance is of a far more limited kind. active and decisive character in. it was expressive of certain contexts of Indian nationalist discourse. to re-vivify a 'fallen' society through the task of forming "a sound.about her... The wider context of Keskar's remarks is. the 'reformist' Arya Samaj sought. could the musical heritage of India be saved" [Lelyveld 1995:55]. anthropological and literarymaterialto indicate otherwise. then. Keskar did not believe that the blame for the lamentable state of Indian music could be traced exclusively to Occidental disdain for Oriental cultural forms and to 'imperial neglect' of native traditions. There is sufficient historical. emerged out of the skein of colonial and post-colonised caste and communal politics. It is important to note that Lata has almost never been dogged by relationship linked gossip that surrounds many other women in the entertainment industry. through the Gurukul education movement. though a mother of the nation who has given that nation a voice. in as much as the post-colonised nation state's cultural capital [Bourdieu 1986] . here. It is interesting to note that when Lata did give public performances it was. at least two contexts are at play. as the lyricist Naushad Ali was to write in a ghazal in praise of Lata [quoted in Bhimani 1995:16]. Hindu milieus. And.its 'ancient heritage'. just as likely that she would stand rigidly on stage. as Manuel (1993) points out. perhaps even a mother. Lata's singing voice was part of the broader borationof this theme. rhythmic. Lata too has forsaken her sexuality and domesticity for devotion to a greatercause.thatspecific historical circumstances coalesced during the second half of the 19th century to produce a milieu within which an anti-Muslim rhetoric was prevalent in many aspects of Indian life. by now. Radha. Lata's voice is the simultaneous site of both gender and class. In what follows. even in old age. Some of these debates were intrinsically linked to the supposed fate of Indian music during colonial rule. In addition to the virgin motherthematic. what matters is the voice and the way it has been defined by the 'notebook'.and. India. Lata's own public persona (on record. So. to project the image of either an asexual mother figure or a generically 'respectable' grandmother. Hence within the Gurukul schools . students" [Pandit 1974:21 1]. corrupted by the Muslims. to establish the authorityof the written word over the recalcitrant possibilities of orality. within the realms of the 'virgin mother'. he and suggested. January-June 1989). its various architecturallandmarks. etc . minister of information and broadcastingfrom 1950 to 1962 was to suggest that "only with national independence. and textually expressive play" [Hansen 1992:243] that marks the latter s expressive universe. and indeed. The other aspect to this is that it simultaneously established the dominance of bourgeois notions of gender. However. So. David Lelyveld has suggested that the Hindu-Muslim context is an importantone for understanding the formulation of 'national programming' [Lelyveld 1995:55] and the attempts to inculcate a 'national' culture through All-India Radio (AIR). In this sense as well. this also legitimised the authority of male notions of the sign 'woman'. through the historical association of writing with men. So. Like the bhakta poets. And. And though Lelyveld's attention is mainly directed towards exploring the strategies and manoeuvres through which Indian classical music was sought to be Hinduised in the immediate post-independence period. Keskar was not alone in his elaIn other words. In a discussion of radio broadcasting in India. Further. The processes through which Lata's voice became established Keskar's thinking on Indian music was. In the post-independence period. And secondly. there is (to resortto culturally mixed metaphors) also an aura of the cult of Meera . Here. So.. its philosophical and cultural achievements. he was of the unequivocal opinion that that the deleterious effects to which it had been subject also derived from the actions of north Indian Muslims. "hadappropriated distorted the ancient art. I do not mean to imply that there existed at all levels of Indian society a fundamental hostility between Hindus and Muslims. namely. in another context.the medieval princess-poetess and an iconic figure in the bhakti movement . the consolidation of 'literariness' as an aspect of Indian modernity served to codify representations of femininity.f the writing. she has become iconcised as virgin mother (sister?) of the nation (for more on bhaktapoets.of 'ancient' and 'Vedic' origin . Lata's adolescent-girl voice for the adult woman comes. The most obvious contrast is with the ghazal singer Begum Akhtar who both drank and smoked and made no effort."the students were called Brhmacharis on the pattern of the Ancient Gurukulas" Reclaiming the Past. heir to the history as aesthetic epitome of Indian feminine identity can also be seen of what might be termed 'Hindu contextualism' [Srivastava1998] as part of the cultural politics of the making of the 'modern' of the late 19th and early 20th century nationalist discourse in Indian woman within the matrices of upper-caste. communication and being in the world. inasmuch as that ideal becomes entrenched.received as much attention as the debates around creating more economic capital. here. processes of nationalist thought where the figure of the womancitizen. Rather. as is well known. inasmuch as she was the object of debate and discussion. the mother who has breathed life into the 'national' woman (the most famous of them all. "For the very heart of India throbs in your voice". comes immediately to mind) articulates a gendered intertextual space where the seemingly disreputable public role of the woman as entertainer is contained by the representational strategies of motherliness and sisterliness. And. and in magazines) is of the respectable house-wife. from Mehboob Khan's 1957 epic Mother India. then. This community. the gharanas. Cleansing the Present [Pandit 1974:156]. primarily through radio broadcasting. I think there is an important link between his discussion and the case of Indian film music. cassette and CD cover sleeves. 2004 . see Manushi 50-2. the task of producing a 'national' musical culture was taken up in a particularlyprominent manner. B V Keskar. a familiar one: that the post-colonised nation state must reinvigorate the ancient Sanskriticculture which had been neglected by the British and. more fundamentally. and sing with her head buried in a notebook.turning it into the secret craft of exclusive lineages. divorced it from the religious context of Hindu civilisation" [Lelyveld 1995:55]. in the process. in this context. the endowment of national-pleasure through a redefinition of modern Indian feminine identity. overriding the "substantial amount of melodic.. Firstly. Lata.

and the skies cleared. the efforttowards producing purified efforts as a 'correct' evaluation of the Muslim influence upon of nationalculturewas manifestedin the prohibition "singers (Hindu) Indian society. And.p 59. no culture. and an enterprise. and critic 19th century journalist cultural However.tradition. in the newly established cinema industry. within a specific she did tell me. Chatterjee [SunderRajan concerns the 'courtesan' background of many of the pioneers bourgeoismilieu. 2004 2023 . Manto's essay culture foundvoice in therealmsof popular national (thatis film) on the actress Nargis is illustrative of this. actress and of mostobviousmanifestation thisprocess. of musicians was thus removed and they began to be treatedwith musicto its putative Indian sub-textin debatesregarding respect"[Deva 1992:106]. call for a purification of the national strong style and public culture. And. Economic and Political Weekly May 15.that even 'respectable' Muslims fought shy of it or. of Indian cinema. Hindi cinema had been deeply shaped by Muslim the undermining the Gharanasystem. of Lelyveldpointsout. and musiciansfrom the courtesanculture" any one (as one this could now be witnessed in another sphere of Indian life. Saadat Hasan Manto has provided one of the most vivid describedas being from 'respectable'backgrounds.Infounding firstof thepubliclyfunded behaviour . and mistaking my morallandscape.I suggestthat filmmaker Jaddanbai and her Hindu lover. markedby rapidly shifting One modernIndianself to a 'pure'and 'ancient'Hindugenealogy contexts of transformation. many.whose portrayal 1993b] and to a 'respectable' by Manto is marked both by warmth and playful wickedness 1993. more importantly. they only favoured and declineof Hindu "morallycorrupt"members of the film industry. Jaddanbai'ssinging and her voice. But.and hence the identityof this class. From its a to be instituted bureaucratic to Radiomusicianswhose most explicitaim appears have been personnel. Given the predominanceof the Gharana These ideas formedan important of the development a 'civil' post-colonisedidentity.who hadskirted illicit influenceof the Muslim accounts of the Muslim social context in the Indian film industry. In an era when film-work of any kind was as Lelyvelddoes. he completely lost his heart film of its the From verybeginning. there was about Jaddanbai that aura of becameat thepeakof herpopularity for herveryearlysinging courtesan 'disreputability' that inspired men such as Keskar and s of resonance thePakistani carries singerNoorjehan' Patel to. in the otherwords. the point that 'the clan of musicians' acts as metonym stituted the backdrop to the attempted Hinduisation and for 'Muslim performers' need hardly be belaboured. was the daughter of the Muslim singer. In the opening decades of the 20th century. when these showers stopped. attempted to keep it a secret.it is those who came to be increasingly stigmatised within the new 1963. As 1995:57].in the context of her great devotion to Mohan babu: coloniality. one writerhas notedthat"whiletherewas So. the predominance of the Urdu language in various aspects 1995:58]was the entryinto the professionof many who were of Hindi cinema. during for selectionprocedure All-India very nature of (Indian) cinema" [Kesavan 1994: 245]. Vishnu at least. then. and. her true love. there was stricter disto construct 'national'musicculturethrough a returning cipline in moral training. that hadlamented thatbothJainsandMuslimshad (1850-1885) Jaddanbaialways turned to her Mohan. it is possible there came to speak of a Muslim "culturalinfluence that has determined the as Keskar's tenure minister. Manto describes this aspect of Jaddanbai's life nasality was partof the processof purifying Hinduising gentrifying the figure of the 'ideal' Indianwoman of post. Bhartendu Harishchandra andRajas willing to showerherwith gold andsilver at hermujras. Manto explains that his Gandharva Mahavidyalayas an wife and her two sisters had formed a close friendship with Nargis Paluskar (1872-1931)soughtnotjust to introduce Digambar but middle-class musicaltraining alsoto situatesuch and would often visit her at the latter's house in Bombay. since they had [Harishchandra thelife workof oneof thegreat andquitetragic figuresof 20th doubly violated the tenets of 'proper' gender and occupational the Indian music.Jaddanbai for linkedto a 'great'Hindupast. He was a handsome. All Manto's pithy essays (1962-1984) on his days as an industry dominated Gharanaand allied systems of performance13.An important of withinAIRwith influences.educatedand healthy man. Mohan babu. it was naturalthat the industry's mainstay would newstyleof film songs"( 1995. infatuatedby the sheer magic of of 'bearerof our traditions'. see also Chakravarty 1993. discourse workerin pre-partitionIndia offers us valuable social and cultural nationalist this is to say thatwithinearly20th-century thereexisteda strongthemewhichlinkedthe emergenceof the insights into an era. An additional way of thinkingaboutthis issue is to suggest. Nargis (1929-81).14 The most obvious manifestation of this was.and con.the grounds such disquiethad been well prepared. at least and Barnouw Krishnaswamy However.Hence. be those already stigmatised by mainstream society (or. The usual odium attached to the clan sought ancientHinduroots[Lelyveld1995].and in particular Muslimmusicians. But none to of these attributesproved of any use to Jaddanbai[who was the consternation the votariesof wouldhavecausedconsiderable herselfwas a veryprominent mainprovider thefamily]. source put it) "whose public life was a scandal"[Lelyveld viz.When training. further. a national'purification' project The for person of her time and there was no dearthof khandaniNawabs For. those. possibleto suggestthattheideologyof a 'pure'and'respectable' moral dispensation of the national movement). to the language of the screenplays outcome and lyrics.This was to be the woman fit to carrythe mantle Mohanbabuwas a rails.was another extremelyinfluentialfigure in the movementthat strict discipline (at the Mahavidyalayas). of these contexts . I pretendedto be annoyed. at least implicitly. century music academies(1901). well. he musicitself. gentrification Indian for Patel'sreignas minister information doubt. pp 200-205). of for beenresponsible the destruction IndianSangeetShashtra [Manto 1984:14]15 and that when "the Muslim emperors such as Akbar and Such was the opprobrium attached to association with the to did Muhammadshah pay any attention it. to the film-titles. Howthe gradualdevelopmentof Lata's singing voice into what it ever. this led to the further artistes" 1995:117]. For. of of of thisprocess linkingemployment possibility "certificationfrom recognised music academies" [Lelyveld course. were able to read Bhartendu's comments and Paluskar's thatunderVallabhbhai a andbroadcasting (1946).that"thegreatenemyin thiseffortto construct treated as disreputable and association with film-workers as decreewastheincreasingly anewmusicbyadministrative popular equally suspect.thatLataMangeshkar's singingstyle was the points out.forinstance.This themeis also salientin with women of Muslim background within it. to emerging For manydays my wife kept these visits a complete secret. they may have surmised. make-up theIndian industry to her.

the lower caste woman. Finally.where a variety of modem processes of culturecame together . however. p 34). Bhimani says. Through Lata's artistry. the Muslimness of Indian filmic culture also remained an inescapable fact. and the search for a 'proper' . however.butalso withinthefirm gripof a watchful. film titles and song lyrics continued to borrow heavily from Persian and Urduand manyof the most prominent lyricistsand actors Economicand PoliticalWeekly May 15. his father. mean to present Lata herself as a passive figure. certain kinds of voices came to be marked as an unacceptable aspect of 'proper' post-coloniality.in a discussion such as this. is situated. in this context. was nasality and a 'heavy' (i e. A few pages later. such that the public woman became forever infantilised.had been an acquaintanceof Naseem's mother. however. the voice that conjures the pliable adolescent girl also concurrently facilitates the invocatory gesture that imagines the 'mother'.For. In anotheressay on the actress Nasim Bano. through certain historical processes of which the nationalist discourse was perhaps the most important. Manto recalls the making of the 1942 film Ujala. public singing by women. The process of 'purifying' Indian public culture took the form. and it is the always the responsibility of enlightened citizenry to shepherdthe former towards the portals of citizenship and civilised action. For. orthe 'tribal'woman. speaking of a pre-recorded introduction by Lata to "an orchestral version of ten of her favourite tunes". came to carry the taint of disrepute. the tonalities of such public singing .became associated with 'disreputable' undomesticated . It is difficult to convey the qualities of a voice . the 'disreputableness' of ambiguous tonalities and the threat of uncertain femininity . where 'Muslimness' and 'debauchery' became conjoined through an emerging discourse of middle-class Hindu respectability. Bhimani notes that "Her voice was clear and soft.18 Lata Mangeshkar's voice. as mentioned above. For it was she who. the project of purification tended.the mise en scene of Krishna Sobti's great novel Mitro Marjani ([1958] 1991). and poor direction. which became the object of the project of postcolonial purification. singing out. opportunity bothexpressingan appropriately and a suitably Hinduised nationality. was no strangerto Ahsansahib.which itself remained unfettered by the definitional constraints of a 'good' voice . became the site for the unfoldingof this project:aplace atthecross-roadsof apublic culture where the adolescent girl's voice-persona appearedto provide the of modem femininity. also made it a target of the reformers zeal.that is an overwhelming aspect of the desire that congregates around Lata's voice19. however.conduct. it is possible to say.adult. then. Ahsansahibmusthave hadampleopportunity meeting Nasim on various occasions. if she felt that her voice was "not at its best" (1995:21). the mass appeal of the film industry and its by-products. in the redemptive projects of turn-of-the-centurynationalism posed the greatest threat to middle-class Hindu masculinity: for. And. "Look. in fact. And. However. This point is nicely encapsulatedin some straycomments in HarishBhimani's hagiographic In Search of Lata Mangeshkar (1995). it could be suggested. "but for god's sake don't ever mention this to anyone!" [Manto 1984:17] Jaddanbaiandher milieu of 'outcast entertainers' [Chakravarty 1993:37]. most commonly. So.was brought into alignment with the discourses of the 'pure' and controllable Hindu womanhood. was only partially successful. the 'good' name of the nation is most often at risk from the retrogradetendencies of its masses. Like that of a girl on the threshold of adolescence" (1995. we made a mistake". it is the Muslim tawaif who became inextricably connected to that kind of voice.the social and emotional contexts it may conjure for the listener . was not an exceptional aspect of the early period of Indian cinema and it is not difficult to see how it might have provided ready-made material for a nationalist discourse organised around the theme of the 'corruption' introduced into Indian social and cultural life by Muslims.that Lata's skill as a forever-adolescent voice. for example . whilst it is true that quite a number of feminine identities came to be seen as not possessing a 'proper' voice. However. It is this heterosexual male fantasy of a Hindu adolescent girl . masculine) voice. and Lata's voice was one of the several sites upon which this project unfolded. pp 19-20) It is this context. ordinary music. unless connected to religious and ritual purposes (such as weddings). Chief Engineer. became derivative of Lata's style. she said. it is possible to say that. Throughout the post-independence period. duringthe process (of completing the film) he fell in love with (the heroine) Nasim Bano. say. but could also. of purging it of its Muslim associations and its connections of various realms of (non-middle class) disreputability. The 'low prestige of the cinema' [Chakravarty 1993:39] as a professional calling has been commented on by film-scholars.Khanbahadur Muhammad Sulaiman.' for Roshan's [sic] in Tajmahal. echoes of which can be discerned in. for all intents and purposes. match wits with her male clientele.In fact. to use D G Phalke's self-pitying phrase. the film flopped and the owner of the production company . to remain incomplete: so whilst the 'ideal' feminine voice of Indian popular culture did. And.16 And. it can be argued.. singer Shamshad Begum's voice. she was his second of wife. at least as far as popular mythology would have it. [For.She provided anotherresolution of the 'woman question' in the post-colonial context: how to have women in public. that it may have been a lapse in her judgment (as Bhimani portrays it) that led her to record the song " 'Paaon chhoo lene do. and my discussion here attempts to place this in the context of tur-of-the-century nationalistdiscourses on gender and religious identity in 'modern' India. (1984.17 So. For. Lata sometimes cancelled her recording schedules.20 I do not.masculinity. she was dexterous not merely in matters of physical allure.femininity (and hence a 'proper' masculinity) became part of the nationalist project of cultural redemption. but through the controllable timbre of a childwoman. merely singing to the tunes ministered by her professional mentors. At a later point. The most obvious counterpoint to Lata's style was what could be referred to as the Kotha (brothel/courtesan) style of singing. Due to a weak story line. there is no reason to assume that she herself has not been an active participant in the project of 'fine-tuning' her voice to the point of its classic recognisability.pretencefor real angershe quickly asked for forgiveness. Nasim. in keeping with the unbridled possibilities of fantasies. though the purge. it became the preserve of the tawaif (the courtesan).'Ahsan sahib' . 2004 2024 . There now emerged an inventory of 'impurities' with respect to 'proper' post-colonial femininity: included in this inventory.] It has a perceptible nasal twang to it" (1995.both controllable everready to please .. when the 'Muslim problem'. it is at this juncture . Chamia.controllable . It is no doubt true that the classical music milieu was an explicit target for the 'reform' project discussed above. p 21).had to suffer great financial loss.

and convention is to think of Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of the to as the linearspacewhichprovidedthe musicalinterlude the chronotope. whereall roads. founderof the IndianStatisticalInstitute.a site of decadenceand extravagance luring 'innocent'people into its influenceupon'backward' web. and.en routeto the cinematicvillage.23The iconic sense of the post-colonialmodernitythe hero hopes to find in that itselfthrough presenceof the FYP hero gained some its legitimacythrough themilieuof thecity. a aredotted in officebuildings othermemorials thenation and to state.One of these.andideasof change. to link the discussionthus secularisation become [Srivastava important expressive principles" farto the male heroof the post-independence era. p 243).discussion.is stronglylinkedto the nationalist economicdevel. Samaji. is is The hero is "a projectile.the that providesthe next rung of my argument.that may still be underthe sway of 'primitive' such as the physicistand statisticianP C Mahalanobis male body .andwill 1998:165]. Bakhtin of pointsout. being'scientific' 'rational' [Srivastava geometrical sensibilityof modernity producea peculiarly postcolonial nationalistaesthetics"[Srivastava1998:166].Here.chap 10]. Segal). intrinsic for "the connectedness temporal spatial of and that in displayof the FYP hero's technologicalaptitudeas he adeptly relationships areartistically [Bakhtin expressed literature" handles epitomeof modernist that desire.and a leading sonalityin post-colonised alongnational influenceupon the formulation the Second Five-YearPlan highwaysandtraintracks.economicplanning city planning of and particular or comes to attach not to bodily representations aggressive come together"at a juncturewhere state interventionand a to and behaviourbut.'these' women thatin Indianfilms roadsand highwaysbecome metonymicof of cometo embodya manual whichmarks themas visibly the pathto nationhood itself: where"peoplewho are normally dexterity different.the roadand the FYP herocombineto reify the notionof progress point:thatof the 'natural' We as of metropolis. "is the sourceof the richmetaphorical in both literal and figurativesenses . as I have noted in another I suggest. rather.by the cinematic village. metropolis. My gesture [Srivastava1998:166].22 2025 . formulation Indianmasculinitywhere manliness In 'NewDelhi'/NewDelhi. In the Indiancase.consists in of roadsand highwaysin these films seem to carrysuch an aura thefusingtogether timeandspace(hence'forming road'). the tawaif In sangwithall the 'sweetness'of a girl-child!21 theseways the of Indianpubliccultureremained unfinished project Hinduising andmaybe best viewed as a contestover the cultural terrain.andhe stoodbothfor government the of delayedgratification through reinvestment savingsfor the froma carbeingdrivenalongmajorthoroughfares alongwhich 'national'good. metropolis always a wilful presence"[Srivastava Here. 2004 were also Muslim. "in (and speedy!) agent of change.as ex.24One of the object of social transformation to be achieved throughthe [Rudra of and ways in which the scientific natureof the FYP hero . [and]where striationand opment philosophy of the five-yearplans.Itis a modernity expresses both the Keynesianand the neoclassicalmodels of economic the measured of roads.'New Delhi' (1956.emanate.So. Extendingthis discussion. distance accidentally can meet. by turns. for a fuller FYPhero. thatthe another milieu of the FYP hero. For. struggleover meaningandbeing in a post-colonial society takes place in a context where the is 1998:165]. this post-colonial on figure. RajKapur). we have to turnto the filmic man whose identity.fairlyhurtles etry.the grid intervention for camera. a broadsense. I want. the openingshots of 'New Delhi'.see also Chatterjee 1993b.as the backdrop crucialsong sequences. highwaysin Hindi films of the 1950s and 1960s.and transformation personalities. the of An rassmentof backwardspaces (and 'mentalities')with searing momentum" forward. But perhaps. 1996].the metropolitan an activeBrahmo keenresearcher anthropom.influences. 1990:84].the hero. 'improver'.individualism marksthe triumphof the emphasison perof that 1972).25 get someideaof themetropolis a structuring of nationallife. one where. And. of the sign of the filmic woman who embodies understanding Spatialstrategiesare particularly important representational Lata'svoice. tools in these films. The FYP hero represents. keptseparate socialandspatial by It could also be suggestedthat the recurring associationbe.imbuedwith an (1893.came to be represented the screen clearingthe way for a nationalspace and effacing the embarwas through operation very specific spatialstrategies.' 'to set out on a new course.andthe civil society which would undermine promiseof a contractual The Five-Year Plan Hero the atavism of kin and caste affiliations.notleastthrough figures the village . of the of a plannedmodernity all those aspirations 'progressing' This.we may argue sentations the 'moder' Indianwomanhood. establishthe film refer to him as the five-year plan (FYP) hero.that the woman at the expansionon the image of the roadas a course:'the courseof steeringwheel and women on bicycles riding along the open life. the the of is pressedthrough formulation the Indianplanningregime metropolis also home to the modern. economicdevelopment In someinstances.In fact. important aspectof this strategywas the iconic use of roadsand speed andunstoppable always 'forward'. contexts.the motorcar. his presenceas metropolitan Mahalanobis perhapsthe most obvious real life exampleof virtuesincarnate the chief therapy. then.'Sujata' Hrishikesh the Mukherjee).any contrastmay crop up. specially in the guise of the Soviet inspiredfive-year plans.Indeed.his of is 1996. traced a of the male body to infiltratethose nationalspaces .so on" (ibid. So. theresult thatwhenshe lent her voice to an on-screentawaif. the Economicand PoliticalWeekly May 15.trafficlights andfootpaths. the male hero as the mobile a Hindifilms.BimalRoy)and'Anuradha' (1960.such as particular lineagetotheworldof science. a progressive intellects. is to the bitumen roadas a place of encounter betweenthe hero One way of exploring this aspect of an importantfilmic andthe heroine. of modernity.and the audiencelook out at these landmarks and thought. auraof thecity is figuredas thecapacity the policies."theauraof the metropolismanifestsitself through and reifiedin theformulation implementation a new languageof cinematicspace. p 244). the metropolisis. the chronotope the road.Mohan (1959. and of that 'civil' space from tropethrough seriesof post-independence films suchas 'Shri420' (1955.most importantly. in several films Lata was also the with playback singerforMuslimon-screencharacters. the most variousfates may collide tween road/highway theFYPheroreally the and serves emphasise and interweavewith one another" to (ibid.ostensibly typified It is the contextof 20th centurydevelopmenttheory.' 'the course of history' and highwaybecome one of the most powerfullyevocative repre. as in other films.male.

a representation the provincialbourgeoismale and of therepresentation womenvis-a-visLata'svoice expressesthe of maledesireto keep a check on 'its' womenin a time provincial of rapidchange. to 1960). to makesome further siderreading filmic romanceof the 1950s and 1960s era as the narratives the 'futuredevelopment'of the individual. in its national in has incarnation. it held. So. We need.27 It is possible to arguethat the scientific career.then.through provincial nationalist discourse thesign politicsor 'modern' metropolitan of 'woman'continued be inscribed to masculinist ideothrough logies. etc . 'traditional' masculine Hence. the e g. the cinematicpresenceof the hero was also one which could be quite easily characterised 'camp'. of domestic singing.from the variousprovincialversionsof Hindi.it is also to of worthnotingthathis 'task'was usuallypositionedvis-a-visthe he to countryside: actedto bringenlightenment India'svillages.and. provincialmen scriptwriters was a meansof employment which for whomthe film industry didnotrequire formalqualifications. in the metropolitan universities collegeswasoften erature history or fromcertain and sufficientcachetowardswell-remunerated in. in this So. However. Orientalist and devediscourses aboutthe 'irrational' lopmenttheoryorientated peasants and theirrecalcitrance the logic of modernity. 2004 backgrounds .28 here. or a bureaucrat. and.or. a doctor. filmicheroof theaboveerawas. in some but not all contexts. male (andfemale)as the subjectof the movie romanceand the of complexrole of the latteras the site of a narrative the 'future deniedby the economicprocess. the of and in 1994:305]happens Lata'scase [Holmlund gender.sought to exercise 2026 . development' could then.In other where'technical'qualifications the prime are words.technical secure qualifications providedthe chief meansof a reasonably of livelihood. it could be arguedthatthe FYP hero is. to suggest thatthatif on the one handthe Latacomplex fromthepatriarchal concerns provincial of maleculture. The metropolitan theme has an important discourse[Srivastava 1998] and it historyin Indiannationalist is this whichalso finds play in the case of Lataand her music: menbecamethe progressive'metropolis' women. in as muchas the heroinesangin her adolescent voice andthe girl songs weresprinkled liberallywith wordsfromvillage dialects.The malehero-wayfarer Indianfilms has modernknowledge of .her artistry was also a partof theprocesswheremenfromstrongpatriarchal control over the representation women throughboth an of whichresonated with more timbreanda vocabulary expressive The 'controllable' environment: villageandtheprovince.the backand ward 'countryside'.the film industry people .engineer. The heroine in a publicplacenotonlysangin anadolescent-girl voice. were. rather. Fanishwarnath Yadav also tell us something Renu. a threat malehegemony. the ideal FYP hero became the post-independence -masculinist 'homoscientificus'and 'homoeconomicus'rolledin to one.26 Itis atthispointthattherelationship betweenIndian metropolitan and provincialcultureand their differenthistoriescomes into play. in fact. if the heroinefigurewas infantilisedthroughLata'svoice. is So finally. And.In otherwords. the Indeed. 'social capital' (i e.most on of the song-writers. of the prolixtechnologiesandideologiesof masculinity patriand Economicand PoliticalWeekly May 15. would transform 'irrational' native into the moderncitizen. employment say. to differentiate betweencorporeal epistemological and masculinity [Srivastava1998] with the latter arising out of the specific historical circumstance post-colonisedlife wherenationalist of discourses on gender and modernityengaged with colonial of representations the 'effeminate'native[Sinha1995].typically.eitherway.as an avenue of social advancementwas and continues be moresoughtafterby theprovincial to middle-classes rather thantheirmetropolitan This is linkedto the counterparts. as forthecamppersona theheterosexual of herocouldcoexistquite with a nationalistideology which identifiedpostcomfortably manlinessas aligned to the 'new' knowledges independence the of science and rationalitywhich.act as a metonymfor 'freedom':the freedomto 'achieve'.to 'fulfilment'. it would be naive to posit a simple relationship betweena 'modem' metropolitan milieu and the lack of patriarchalstrictures. however.which. doctor.to individualchoice.To be 'in love'. then. maybe morefruitful. to Now. 'Anuradha'. Further 'imbrication sexuality.province.my suggestion thattheHindi film of the above era was reallya compactbetweenthose who made the film and those watched it. thatLata'svoice . potentially. emerged it was no less connected themodernisation patriarchal to of forms culture. writersand thinkerssuch as KrishnaSobti.also drew heavilyfromthe variousdialectsof Hindi. in fact.andthe presence of thescreen-woman its publicplacescompounded threat. among others. It could be suggested. 'Lata Mangeshkar'is the conjunctionalsite.the 'check'which any Lata'svoice was soughtto be imposedon filmicwomenthrough was expressedin anotherway which brings to the fore the provincial-metropolitan angle of my discussion. 'woman'as sign also cameto represent village(or. centresa 'Pass' degree in EnglishlitSo. then.a situation meansof social advancement the provincial for middle-classes. in additionto Urdu. And of middle-class thisknowledge becomesthemark post-colonised masculinity. as muchas in popular in discourse childis seen the to be closer to nature. nature' throughthe voice itself: the 'natural'identityof the womanis alignedto thatof the girl-child. we for If betweenIndianmetropolitan and keep in mindthe asymmetry cultural thenit is not difficultto speakof the provincial spheres.thatwhich neededto be 'improved'.for here. city the be to can. Now.scientificknowledge as his most fundamental attitude.sex. the corporate sector. 'contacts') were also a partof the context. specific conditionsof Indianpost-colonialitywhere the vast majorityof the provincialbourgeoisiehas lacked the avenues for theacquisition 'cultural of capital'[Bourdieu1986]. been Sanskritised orderto give it a classical genealogy. she was also producedas familiarand speaking.in thelanguage 'home'andthecontrollable rather a recently thenation. connections. portrayed as an engineer(buildingroads or dams). be mademore'rational' theeffortsof menwhoembodied through the new knowledgeswhichhadthe madethe west 'progressive'.a scientist. and Indiabackward. Rajendra other about sitesof 'progressive' It thinking. singing but also mouthedlyrics which.For middle and lower middle class men fromprovincialtowns and cities. then.we mightalso conNow. So. prevalentin Indianmetropolitan Inaddition the 'scientific'persona theFYPhero. The (provincialmale) audiencefounditself fully represented the screen. a theme borrowedfrom.29 than space produced publicsphere.reflectingthe differential development metropolitan and provincialsystems of educationand the relationship in betweenthe English language and the 'vernaculars' postcolonialsocieties.and hence adultfemalenessis naturalised the closer through associating adultwomanas forever to childhood.

Johnson 1997].such as those of Hindunationalism. we should rememberthat even in the relatively structuredmilieu of an Indianclassicalmusicconcertin urban India. this would be a banal point). whilst not intrinsically morally 'superior'to 'writing' contexts (indeed. Hindi films have witnessed the incursionof otherkinds of female voices. about complexities of practices. 13 I am aware that at this time AIR had several Muslim musicians on its staff and recognise that everyday relationships between Hindu and Muslim musiciansmay. 12 Lest this be regardedas a varietyof romanticismon behalf of 'tradition'. these songs were usually regardedas oddities in Asha's repertoire. 3 I am grateful to Moinak Biswas for raising this issue. sing themselves hoarse" [Gandhi 1990:7]. Further. such as 'Mere Mehboob' (1963. the metropolisand the province. usually. the chief criterion for inclusion in the latter is usually perceived kin responsibility. whether they have a voice or no.based on the speech-writingbinary .Indiannationalism. is aboutthe differentforms of power (not theirlack!)thatcharacterise differentinteractional contexts.And. The GramophoneCompany of India. as also with the ritual singing mentioned. who specialised in providing playback voices for 'non-domesticated' female characters. and mightbe exploredin the contextof contemporary imaginings of 'home' and 'tradition'. From my own experience. All translationsfrom Hindustani texts by the author. 21 Interestingly.AbrarAlvi). helped me to think about the relationship between discursive and non-discursive realms in a non-teleological manner. both directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee).hisstrong opposition to a life on the stage for his daughter. 8 The issue of a fortuitousfit between Lata's voice and the technology for public recordings is also sometimes offered as an explanation for its popularity. 7 Cassette recording:The Best of Farida Khanum. thatthe dominanceof Lata's voice was partof the same process thatestablishedthe styles popularised by Rafi and Kishore Kumaras the norms for male singers. Mahalanobis published a statisticalpaper entitled 'AnthropologicalObservationson Anglo-Indians of Calcutta. the 'professional' singer of Hindi films . it is nevertheless one we can meaningfully this is not to suggest that other non-Hindugroups such employ. 17 See. performance and hence my take on orality may be open to dispute.may have differentmodes of sociality.au Notes 1 Another context.and'Chitralekha' RajKhosla). So. However. have been quite cordial. an ambiguous one. his interest in led anthropometry him to also do some work in England in 1927 on the so-called Pearson's Coefficient of Racial Likeness (information compiled from Rudra 1996. hence. The extent to which Lata's own career also constitutes a drive towards attaining 'respectability'mustremaina point of conjecture. in his autobiography.there is always some merit in arguments that tell us something about the intersection between technology and culture. 1987(?) The Companyof India. I am grateful to Ann Grodzins Gold.These 'other' tonalities provide Indianpublic culture with a resonance that is markedly different from that of Lata's style. However. and manywill alreadybe familiarwith the performers performances style I refer to.also a man of leisure.as well as the modern'territorialised' understanding of 'culture'. such as those of Ila Arun's in Subhash Ghai's 1993 film 'Khalnayak'. and from the Indian Statistical Institute Website). rather. 'Muslim influence' may not itself be a simple term to define. and carriedwithin her an unsettling aspect. I owe this point to a discussion with KathrynHansen.as Kesavanpoints out. one can argue that cultural contexts where orality continuesto be a majoraspectof social interaction. but to leave mattersat this is merely to defer to technological determinism. 4 The main singers of the Dholi Gayikayen('Female singers with drum accompaniment')group whose recordingI possess are Jamila Kulsum and Natha Bai. in itself. Of course. 14 And. 15 Raiis: literally. Lata's popularityamong the recent Indian diaspora. Illustrativeexamples of this may be found in the films such as 'Anuradha'(1960). Her own family background was. 2004 2027 .'SahibBibi aurGhulam' the is (1964. ManoharLalals. is a projectin itself. 18 Thereis another interesting aspectto theauraof middle-classrespectability that subsequently gathered around Lata.Urdu Modern Songs. but not social standing" [Bhimani 1995:83].can have theirown social andculturaldynamic and this does not. 19 This of course begs the question of the grounds of women's attraction to Lata's voice.are not. This aspect of courtesancharacterisation perhapsmost successfully propagated was throughthe mediumof Hindifilms. 1992.However. predominantly H S Rawal). 3M Address for correspondence sanjays@deakil.Master Dinanath. in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam). although. relationship the between archy. However. the question is one of investigating the variationsof sociality.the Bhanwarabaranadanhai numberpicturisedon Waheeda Rehman). given what Raheja and Gold (1994) have to say about the abundant'sexual play' in the songs of ruralwomen in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. also occasionally sang in a adolescent-girl voice (e g. and this in a post-colonialcontext with a long history of instruction on the 'proper'relationship betweenaudiencesandperformers. (1962.Lata's sister Asha Bhonsle.edu. for example. no matter how contingent. suggests the reduction of 'textuality' to a "second order ideological expression" [Bhabha 1994:23]. especially chapter six.Here. the (Hindu) heroine who aspiredto be a professionalsinger was of usually a representative the 'modern' woman. A representativesample of discussions can be found in Gupta and Ferguson (1992). 1990) have. as Parsis and Christiandid not have a presence in the film industry. However. 2 Rahul Sankrityayan'sghummakkadmethodology ({1948} 1994) and Michel Foucault's 'genealogical' analyses (1979. The issue. 23 Masculinity has had a varied career in Hindi films. a researchprojectin itself. Gramophone 6 As stated earlier.colonialism. in films such as 'KalaPani' (1958. SapnaAwasthi's in the 1998 film 'Dil Se'. The Dholis are a caste of professional musicians from and Rajasthan commonlyperformat Hinduritualoccasions. Part I: Male Stature'.Mahatma Gandhi was to note that during Hindu marriageceremonies "women. in the context of early 20th century culture. I amalsomindfulof Kathryn Hansen'scomment(personal communication) thatnot all 'traditional' genreswere necessarilystrictlyoral.that Derridacritiques in Levi-Strauss's work. in their different ways. This may or may not have any implications for the presence or lack of hierarchies. 5 Cassette recording: The Festival of India. metadiscourses. as well as pointingto a fermentover the meaningof desirablefemininity.and is partof its archive on folk-music. and that the idea of 'Muslim influence' had considerable public currency.the admiration for Lata's 'pre-sexual' style merits careful scrutiny. ratherthan asking: 'do we really know what writing is?' [Derrida 1976. and 'Abhimaan'(1973.had been a very well known singer and actor on the Marathistage and. or at least to an opening up of the question of feminine identity. 22 Of particular interest is Lata's playback role in films which were about Muslim contexts.Oralcontexts. in fact.and that betweenoralityand literacy. may have been somewhat at the marginsof 'respectable'Maharashtrian society [Bhimani 1995].that at the time Muslims formed a considerable population of film-industry workers. given to 'pleasures'.as opposed to the 'spontaneously'melodic heroine. I am aware of the limitations of such a description of voice qualities. through the "patron-performer-audience 11 I could be accused here of falling into the kind of romanticism.I am gratefulto Kathy Hansen for raising this issue.was usually the tawaif figure. 24 In a 1922 edition of the Records of the Indian Museum.ZohraBai sings in raagBhoopali. rather. 9 My most immediategesture is to recent work in anthropologythat has soughtto problematisethis spatialconsciousness within anthropological theory. to reiterate. It should also be addedthatthe singing voices that most typified the FYP hero were those provided by Mohammad Rafi and the 'earlier'KishoreKumar. and Kakar (1990) andPrasad(1998). Varsha Joshi. Economic and Political Weekly May 15.ratherthan a predefined voice quality. The singing is accompaniedby large drums known as the Dhol [Joshi 1994]. for some other examples see Chakravarty(1993). The recording haveaccess to was madeby the Social WorkandResearch I Centreat Tilonia in Rajasthan. ShirleyTrembath responding my requestforinformation. who was liable to breakout into song at any time in orderto express her 'inner' self . for her father. Nancy for to and Martin. 10 The milieu I am gesturing at could be better described as constituted nexus" [Hansen 1992:251]. 20 Fromthe 1990s. specifically. Volumes One and Two. 16 Hence.theaudiencehasconsiderable withtheperformer also Hansen1992:243[see scopefor(vocal)interaction 51].a wealthyman. Dinanath is reportedto have said that "this work might offer money and fame. and invite the reader acquaintedwith Indian music to evaluate my statementsin light of personal experience. directed and by Mani Ratnam. I have been led to make this point explicit througha suggestion by MadhavaPrasad (personal communication). Premchand'snovel Sewasadan (1921). Volume I. Kidar Sharma) courtesan a figureof mysterioussophistication.

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